- Leaking Chelsea Manning
Does 8/21/13 ring a bell? It should. On that day Private Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for violations of the Espionage Act and other crimes. Private Manning was the self-identified gay soldier who courageously blew the whistle on U.S. militarism, imperialism, and hypocrisy by delivering a substantial archive of confidential government documents to WikiLeaks, documents subsequently released to and variously leaked by opportunistic mainstream news organizations that would largely vilify her. The next day, August 22, in a public statement delivered by her attorney, Private Manning came out as a transgender woman named Chelsea, productively exposing and disturbing again, anew, carceral and homonationalist discourses, policies, and politics. Chelsea Manning’s tortuous treatment for more than three years between her arrest and trial by the U.S. government, coercively serving as poster child for the Obama Administration’s war on whistleblowers, was inflected, deepened, by U.S. LGBT organizations and communities which, in their warm post-Don’t Ask Don’t Tell bonhomie with a system long oppressing them, castigated her as traitor or said nothing at all. Such silences and hostilities remain, despite lip service support of Chelsea’s transgender identity in ongoing struggle. We believe Private Chelsea Manning deserves far better.
This issue of QED (1.1), which we have entitled “Chelsea Manning’s Queer Discontents,” strives to contribute to the justice of this case by variously speaking, theorizing, analyzing, contextualizing, and politicizing its manifold complex dimensions and implications. Here diverse contributors—established and emergent queer scholars, established and emergent activists, activist journalists and artists, those close to the Manning case from the beginning and others engaged by its unfolding—explore, engage, and expose competing discourses of truth and [End Page vii] dissent, human rights and victimization, heroism and treason, secrecy and disclosure, discipline and domestication, national security and intersectional violence, solidarity and ostracism, pinkwashing and punishment, homonational pride and queer citizenship. In doing so, these contributors enact queer world-making by their fierce and insightful additions to the Chelsea Manning archive and, so importantly, by leaking Chelsea Manning—releasing, circulating, amplifying this archive of queer discontent—and encouraging others to do so as well.
We have asked contributors to honor Chelsea Manning’s gender identity through their use of pronouns and other references. All have done so, even if in some instances chronology in these analyses necessitated use of the name Bradley, his historicized sexual orientation, and the rhetorics, his own and myriad others, that constituted Bradley Manning (carefully and respectfully orchestrated in such instances).
Given the prominence of coming out and outing in this issue, and it being award season in the U.S., we also feature here a lively forum, guest edited by David Gudelunas, on the spectacle and politics of Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech at the 2013 Golden Globe Award ceremony. The issue closes with excellent contributions to the QED Book Review section. [End Page viii]